In the very early hours of the morning, National Geographic Explorer entered the Kiel Canal, one of the most fascinating civil engineering structures of its kind in the world. The Kiel Canal was built in the late 19th century to connect the Baltic to the North Sea, linking important ports and cities on both sides of the Jutland peninsula. As the sun came out, we found ourselves transiting the canal accompanied by the beautiful birdsong of a dawn chorus. Throughout the morning, we enjoyed sightings of cuckoos, a white-tailed eagle, and large numbers of graylag geese and mute swans with young cygnets. We heard different species of warblers, great tits, song thrushes, among many other species of seabirds and passerines. The weather could not have been more pleasant. It was warm and sunny with a gentle, refreshing breeze.
As we made our way through the canal, we enjoyed some interesting presentations in the lounge. National Geographic photographer Todd Gipstein shared his insights and experience with us. Later, we heard Stephen speak about the history of trade in Northwest Europe.
Around 11:00 a.m., we reached the end of the canal at the locks at Brunsbüttel lock after almost 100 km of navigation. Expedition leader Sheri invited us to come out on deck and see the passage through the chamber of the lock. We were delighted to observe the skill of the people in charge of operating the system and the work of the bridge team and deck department at maneuvering the ship.
In the afternoon, we made our way into the North Sea through an estuary of the Elbe River, and we continued toward our next destination: Amsterdam.